New Delhi: On a sunny, winter morning, a group of about two dozen children, between the ages of three and 12, clap and recite poems along with an instructor in a courtyard outside the out-patients-department at the AIIMS, one of Asia`s largest research and referral hospitals. It`s that brief, transient tranquility in a day fraught with pain and uncertainty.As they get busy, they momentarily forget that their parents have queued up outside a counter at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (it treats about 10,000 patients every day) to take them through the traumatic and, often, painful drill of cancer detection and treatment.For most of the young cancer patients, a bulk of whom are from other states, the congregation on the chattai, or simple reed mats, and related activities are the only pleasant memories they carry home after a painful day at the hospital."I enjoy the fun activity here," Mohammed Rehan, 3, a resident of Alamganj in Bihar`s capital Patna, who has blood cancer, said.The young patient acknowledges the gains from the chattai "clinic". Behind it is the complex exercise of relaxation and group therapies, along with motivational and self-esteem modules, prepared by volunteers and the education team of NGO Cankids Kidscan. Saloni, 6, suffering from throat cancer, is also a regular at the chattai meetings during visits to the hospital from her house in Delhi`s Shalimar Bagh neighbourhood."Papa takes me to doctor inside when my turn comes; till then I spend time here," Saloni, whose father is a driver, said.
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